Max Kellerman is used to critiquing Carson Wentz from afar. Now he’ll have to do it live in front of Eagles fans.
On Friday, Kellerman and cohosts Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim Rose will bring their ESPN debate show First Take to Philadelphia, filming live at the Chickie’s and Pete’s on Packer Ave. Doors for fans will open at 8:30 a.m.
Comedian Kevin Hart, 97.5 The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli, and ESPN NFL analyst and former Eagles scout Louis Riddick will appear on Friday’s show, according to an ESPN spokesperson. Hart has appeared on the show numerous times, but among his most memorable was back in September of 2018, when he defended the Eagles and called Smith out for some of the pieces he wrote during his tenure as a columnist at the Inquirer.
As Wentz has struggled at times this season, Kellerman has been outspoken in his criticism of the young Eagles quarterback. And though he’s been more thoughtful and nuanced than trolls like FS1′s Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless, Kellerman didn’t budge at all on Monday, even after Wentz led the Eagles to a come-from-behind win against the Redskins on Sunday.
“No, it’s not time to give Carson Wentz praise,” Kellerman said on Monday’s show, adding he thought Wentz has shown a “shocking level of regression,” even considering the lack of talent he’s been surrounded with for most of the season.
“What you do on field is what you do on the field,” Kellerman added.
Of course, First Take is a debate show. Once again Kellerman was confronted by ESPN analyst and former backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who rattled off a list of the NFL’s top quarterbacks and said if they performed as Wentz had over the past two weeks, Kellerman would be dishing out the praise for their ability to overcome adversity.
"But since it’s Carson Wentz and you’ve taken this stance on Carson Wentz, you can’t look at the past two weeks and go, ‘No other quarterback has had that fourth quarter performance,' " Orlovsky said.
"I’m not denying that. I think there are signs things are getting better,” Kellerman admitted. “He’s regressed as a quarterback. His instincts have regressed.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen. Let me remind you all this is debate and an argument about a quarterback who is 7-7. Just want you all to know," Smith quietly interjected after remaining silent throughout the argument. “We gonna find out Sunday.”
Smith might be spotted driving down I-95 in a Brinks truck, considering he reportedly signed a new five-year contract with ESPN that pays him nearly $8 million a year. As part of his new deal, Smith has begun hosting a special edition of SportsCenter on Wednesday night ahead of the network’s NBA games, which he’ll anchor this week from the Wells Fargo Center ahead of Sixers-Heat. Next year, Smith will give up his ESPN radio show to offer the network more flexibility in using its top star, including on its streaming platform, ESPN+.
“Those who are great get more than those who are not,” Smith told retired ESPN anchor Bob Ley during a discussion at Seton Hall earlier this year. “Everybody at ESPN or in the world of sports media does not deserve to be paid what I get paid. I don’t believe it. I just don’t, and I’ll never apologize for it.”